Improving Services Through Military and Veterans Knowledge Sources

Abstract

Programs that want to work with veterans and military families should understand the particular needs and culture within this segment of the population. Many organizations have already been working with them for decades, if not longer, and can be valuable resources in assessing needs and developing services. By tapping in to these organizations, a program can develop a deeper understanding and leverage the knowledge gained to better reach, engage, and serve veterans and military families. 

Issue:

The better you understand the population you are serving, the more effective you can be in creating positive outcomes and avoiding redundancies in service.

Action:

Seek local and national partners that have a track record with veterans and military families.

Organizations with a successful track record have illustrated that they already understand and know how to serve veterans and military families successfully. Learning from and collaborating with these organizations can help you better understand this population and tailor your efforts to serve them effectively, and in ways that complement existing services.

Program examples:

  • The American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps Consortium engages partners with extensive experience (269 combined years) serving service members and military families. They include: American Legion Auxiliary, National Fraternal Congress of America, National Military Family Association, Operation Homefront, and Ride to Recovery. Each of these organizations brings additional partnerships with Veterans Service Organizations. Additionally, key staff members are veterans and/or military family members.
  • Vet Success engages partners that include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, both of which provide training and technical assistance to AmeriCorps members and project staff.

Engage individuals with military expertise to provide member training.

Consider your veteran population and military families as a source of expertise, and not just service recipients. Military-affiliated individuals are uniquely qualified to identify the unspoken needs of others who are part of the military community. The fellowship that exists between veterans can be helpful in getting former service members to engage in available supports or services. Veterans or military-affiliated individuals can train or orient your program volunteers to the experience of being a veteran, and they will be familiar with (and can help connect you with) veteran-serving organizations in your community. 

Program examples:

  • Build Corps enlisted a board member of its sponsoring agency, who is also the veteran's outreach coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs, to train those members who will be providing direct services to veterans.
  • As mentioned in point #1 above, Vet Success engages partners that include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, both of which provide training and technical assistance to AmeriCorps members and project staff.

Find ways to gather, document, and share the knowledge that you access.

Once you gather, document, and learn from veteran and military family knowledge sources, it's important to share that information to (a) better inform possible funders, (b) determine needs in the community, and (c) help others who may benefit from the knowledge as it relates to their own service efforts. 

Program example:

Through various web-based data collection systems, CalVet Corps is developing a regional "dashboard" that will be included in an annual Community Veteran Service Gap-Analysis Report to help improve the quality of veterans' services throughout the state. The report will include recommended improvements and recent accomplishments and will be shared with key government stakeholders, military commanders, and elected officials.

For more information:

Related Resources

Organizations and Programs Serving Veterans and Military Families

Serve.gov: Resources for Military Families and Veterans


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